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Unfriendly family 2010/3/25 05:24

I have some kind of cultural question.

My uncle married a Japanese woman 17 years ago.
(The japanese parents couldn't come to the wedding, and we suppose they didn't even want to...)
They had a child, (my cousin) who is thus half-japanese.

I always found my aunt's family to be quite strange, without paying much attention, as we're not close.

However, now that I grewup and took a particular interest in Japan, japanese culture and all, I'm wondering a bit, are they "strange" even for Japanese, or is it just a cultural thing...

I noticed that in general Japanese people are kind of "cold" toward strangers. (As opposite to my family, of italian descent).

For example, even if I stayed in Tokyo during 6 months, I never saw my "family", not even once, but we lived 10 minutes away of each others...

Even when my cousin came and visit, we spent all day together and ate together, but if I missed my last train, I couldn't go spend the night with them, and had to find a manga-cafe by myself...

I'm wondering if that kind of "coldness" is usual amongst Japanese people, even with their "extended family", or is it just mine who are not friendly??
by Tatum  

. 2010/3/25 11:51
It is hard to say. I wonder if it your Japanese aunt who is "cold" here rather than her parents.
by Ikuyo Kuruyo (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2010/3/25 15:10
Did she marry properly with her parent's blessings? Was your cousin properly introduced to the Japanese grand parents? Were you properly introduced to them? Can you communicate with them? Have you taken any presents? Inviting someone to their home is a big deal in Japan unless properly done.
by ay (guest) rate this post as useful

coldness?? 2010/3/25 17:13
I have known families like that in both France and Canada. People share similar singularities all over the world. Nothing to do with a nationality.
My own grandparents were OK with us grand kids but my parents wouldn't have dreamed of dropping by their respective parents' homes unannounced. They always made an appointment a few days before. By mail.

My boss in France lived in the same building as his widowed mom. She would send her maid with a note telling him when to come and see her.
by Red frog (guest) rate this post as useful

Hope this answers your question 2010/3/25 17:34

I'm Japanese and among my relatives, including those related to my husband or both of my parents, if a first cousin, grandchild or nephew/niece comes to stay from a far away place to a 10 minute walking distance place, it is common to greet each other and chat over tea, unless there is no specific reason not to, such as language barriers. Some may not want to, then that person is called "mizu-kusai (distant and reserved)." If someone misses the last train, one may often invite them to stay over. Meanwhile, a respectful child is brought up being told that you shouldn't stay over at people's homes by sudden notice.

But then, I'm not sure if I understand what you mean. You say that "I never saw my 'family', not even once" while you also say, "my cousin came and visit, we spent all day together and ate together." I assume this was both in Tokyo. Isn't your cousin "family"?

There is no need for people who doesn't want to see each other to force themselves to see each other. If you and your cousin wanted to see each other, that was done and that was fine. But if the other people who live 10 minutes away isn't interested in seeing you, that is that. I don't think they are the most common type of people, but in any country there are people who've decided not to see each other for various reasons. You can't really say that this is because they are "cold."

So my answer is, yes, I would say that many Japanese people in Japan might say that your aunt is "strange" and "cold," but if you ask me, these people who say so have't met all the people in the world.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

family 2010/3/25 18:15

I'm a little confused by the relationship here. By your "family" in Japan do you mean your Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin? Or do you mean your Aunt's extended family? I'm gonna assume that you mean your Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin, which leads me to wonder why your Uncle, who shares your cultural upbringing and is related to you by blood, wouldn't be more interested in meeting with you?
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Sorry,,, 2010/3/25 21:56
Sorry, I didn't explain very clearly, my English is far from good...

There wasn't really a language barrier, as I speak enough Japanese to hold a conversation...

When I say ''japanese family'' I mean my aunt's parents and sisters, as my cousin lives in Switzerland with me.

When I said I didn't meet with them, I meant the ones who lived in Japan, my cousin came as a tourist on ly for 2 weeks, and stayed with her grand-parents.

I can't say if the wedding was ''blessed'', but when my aunt and cousin visit Japan they always stay with them...

I dont know what means ''properly intorduced'' to them mean, as we live at ht other side of the planet, no, I never met them, so no introduction...

Of course, I wouldn't just come by at their appartment and be all ''Yay, we're related, now treat me to dinner and give me a room'', but still,
in ma Swiss-family, if a distant relative told us ''I'm going to go and spend 6 months 2 blocks away from your house by myself'', we would at least offer to help her and, Idk, just go and eat togrther or something...
by Tatum rate this post as useful

. 2010/3/25 23:45
I wouldn't consider what happened to be unusual or unfriendly at all. In fact, I find it unusual that you would consider your aunt's parents as family or even an extended family. I have never met any of my non-blood uncle/aunt's parents and I have no desire to.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2010/3/26 00:01
Was your Japanese aunt's family told ''I'm going to go and spend 6 months 2 blocks away from your house by myself'' by your Japanese aunt? Ideally you talked to her first about your stay and asedk her if you could "drop by" and say hello to them (with a little gift). As you say you are not close to her, I wonder whether she was willing to help you IF you asked her their favor. If you didn't talk to her beforehand, it is not about who is cold nor cultural difference. It is more like a poor communication.
by Ikuyo Kuruyo (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2010/3/26 03:34

Is this what you're saying?

Your Japanese aunt, her husband and her child all stayed at your aunt's parents' house. Am I right? That sounds pretty warm and natural to me.

And you never had a chance to meet your aunt's parents? That sounds natural, too. My parents, especially my father, are one of the most social people in the world and they've never met their daughter's husband's brother's children who have lived in the same city for years. It never occured to them, nor to these children.

So how did you end up at the manga-cafe? I mean, how did the conversation go, and where did your cousin stay that night? For example, say you are staying at someone else's house. You don't suddenly take home a person to that house in the middle of the night. Even if you are a grandchild, you are the guest, you're supposed to be polite, and you don't wake up your grandmother and make her get some blankets for you.

Aren't all these things normal in your country? I think they pretty are in the U.S., England or Paris. They may be normal to some people in those countries and city, while they may not be to others in those countries and city.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

family 2010/3/27 01:19
When I say ''japanese family'' I mean my aunt's parents and sisters, as my cousin lives in Switzerland with me.

In that case I don't the evidence really points one way or the other. You're really only distantly related (and barely at that), so I don't think we can pass judgment either way.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

relationship 2010/4/21 07:18
I'm sure your aunt's family is strange, but you're also distantly related to them. They really don't have much reason to visit you unless you make the first move here.

Your cousin is not only related by blood, but has a long relationship with you. I have like ten cousins and I spend 95% of my time with one cousin, 5% of my time with another cousin, and 0% of my time with the other 10. I spend way more time with my cousin or sister than my brother or father. Relationship matters a lot more than blood or in-laws.
by sdbri rate this post as useful

Second AY's thought 2010/4/21 22:57
As AY suggested, I am guessing that this wasn't a wedding that was "blessed" persay.

My uncle (Japanese) have shown me quite a bit of how "traditional" they can get, I remember visiting him with my Fiancee, he arranged 2 rooms for us because we are not married yet at the time (We are now).

So, having their daughter marrying non-Japanese could have been enough reason to disowned her. People that traditional are not typical anymore, but its not non-existence. That said, if they are still mad at the whole marriage thing, you can't expect them to be friendly to you as you belong to a family that break their chain of tradition

just a thought
by GLee (guest) rate this post as useful

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